Kiss

Hershey’s Kisses are, depending on how you look at it, either the most boring candies in the world or one of the long-reigning classics of the modern age. Over the years, Hershey’s has attempted to make its Kisses a little more interesting by introducing new flavors (and often giving them an expiration date). Most of the Kisses currently available on the Hershey’s website use the classic Hershey’s milk chocolate as the base flavor and incorporate different fillings to give each Kiss its own unique spin.

Like all great experiments, sometimes it works, and sometimes it really doesn’t. Hershey’s Kisses are a classic because of their simplicity, and sometimes this candy company gets a little too wild with its ideas — just because it’s bite-sized doesn’t make it naturally appealing. For the most part, Kisses are at their best when they stick to the basics, though certainly there are exceptions. We tasted every Kiss so you don’t have to.

13. Cherry cordial Hershey’s Kiss

Cherry cordial Hershey's Kiss

A real cherry cordial is a work of art that requires time, care, and fresh ingredients. The Hershey’s Kiss version contains none of those things. Though a Hershey’s Kiss seems like the perfect shape and size to hide a boozy cherry, in actuality, the syrupy insides of a mass-produced cherry cordial taste more like cough medicine than brandy, and the chocolate isn’t quite flavorful enough to balance out the strong acidity of the fruity goo. While we can appreciate the reach, Hershey’s really should have known not to touch this classic (and classy) dessert. This is the kind of candy you eat off a crystal platter, not peeled out of aluminum wrapping.

If you’re craving this fruit-forward dessert, we suggest hitting up your local chocolatier or trying your hand at creating a cherry cordial yourself. Or just go for a regular Hershey’s Kiss. Really, anything is better than this.

12. Vampire Hershey’s Kiss

These Halloween-themed candies are what you’ll find at the bottom of the trick-or-treat bowl after the last costumed kid has rung your doorbell. While we applaud Hershey’s for their creativity, a dollop of blood-colored sugar does not a vampire make — or a candy. The strawberry flavoring here is less medicinal than the cherry cordial variety, but beyond that, it tastes sweet and vaguely red, i.e., pretty flavorless aside from the overwhelming saccharinity.

A Hershey’s Kiss is assumed to be chocolate, and biting into one only to be met with a fruity paste is a disappointing fate, especially when the "Vampire" label on the tag doesn’t really prepare you for what’s in store. It’s almost worse than finding the one bad chocolate (usually one with a similar berry-flavored creme inside) in a box of candy. At the very least, you’d think Hershey’s would be reliable. This year, skip the allure of the seasonally appropriate flavor and give the kids what they want: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

11. Special dark Hershey’s Kiss

Similar to the cherry cordial, dark chocolate is a refined and delicate dessert — both subtle and complex if done right, but such a feat is easier said than done. The best dark chocolate merely whispers of sweetness, providing your palate instead with deep, rich flavors that replace the need for excess sugar.

Hershey’s special dark Kiss is, well, not that. The candy company should have left this one to the experts, but instead, dark chocolate-lovers will have to suffer through the overwhelming disappointment of biting into this candy and discovering its chalky texture and bland taste. Unsurprisingly, these Kisses aren’t entirely dark chocolate, either. Consumers should be warned that just because the label says "dark" doesn’t mean they’re dairy-free. This product contains a combination of milk and dark chocolate — and instead of highlighting the best qualities of both, this Kiss flavor tastes like it can’t quite choose a side.

10. Hot cocoa Hershey’s Kiss

Though hot cocoa Kisses created quite a stir in 2018 as the first seasonal flavor in ten years, we think the holidays are better with a warm cup of real hot cocoa instead of Hershey’s solidified remake. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that a cocoa Kiss for the cold winter months is missing the most vital element of its prototype, the quality that makes hot cocoa what it is: heat. We’re not entirely sure how the marketing team got away with labeling this Kiss a high-temperature candy, but such is the magic of a multi-billion dollar business.

The "hot cocoa" in this Kiss is actually nothing more than a regular milk chocolate Kiss. What makes it unique is the marshmallow center, a sorry excuse for the real stuff you’d eat half-melted over a steamy cup of hot cocoa. Skip the Kisses and go for Swiss Miss instead.

9. Cookies ‘n’ creme Hershey’s Kiss

Unfortunately, this Hershey’s Kiss is primarily white creme, meaning it’s pretty much dead on arrival as far as we’re concerned. Still, the white "chocolate" is especially creamy (thanks to its extensive ingredient list that contains not even a trace of cocoa), which compliments the crunchy texture of the Oreo-like cookie crumbles loaded inside. These Kisses are overwhelmingly sweet, but the cookies, which contain a hint of salt and far less sugar than the chocolate surrounding them, give the candy a more balanced flavor, resulting in an experience far more enjoyable than you might expect to find in white chocolate.

Despite the fact that cookies and creme has become just about as mainstream as chocolate or vanilla, lending this Kiss flavor less intrigue than others, the final, bite-sized product comes together quite nicely. If you reduce it down to the sum of its parts, you’ll find each part pretty disappointing. We recommend taking the experience as it is and appreciating the cookies and creme flavor for what it is: pretty average, but definitely not bad.

8. Candy cane Hershey’s Kiss

The natural step up from cookies and creme brings us here: peppermint. With similar pitfalls as its cookie-laden counterpart (namely the white base), the peppermint candies in these candy cane Hershey’s Kisses offer a more interesting crunch than the pseudo-Oreos in cookies and creme. Peppermint cools down the grating sweetness of white chocolate without sacrificing its confectionary charm.

These Kisses’ best qualities (peppermint — and lots of it) are strong and flavorful enough to overshadow their worst, making for a pleasant commingling of flavors that, like all great peppermint has the power to do, puts you instantly in the holiday spirit. Peppermint is really a superior flavor and could transform any subpar snack into an experience both delicious and nostalgic. We recommend pairing these with hot cocoa (the real stuff) in lieu of the hot cocoa Kisses you might (reasonably) think would go nicely with them while relaxing near the fire (or space heater).

7. Lava cake Hershey’s Kiss

The main problem with a lava cake-themed candy is that the bar is simply too high. Lava cake is one of the seven wonders of the world: a pillowy chocolate cake housing a miniature river of rich, melted chocolate so hot it would burn your mouth if not for the ice cream or cold whipped cream dripping into it as the protective cake layer disappears into your mouth. It is an unparalleled experience, one that certainly would fall flat if relegated to the world of unbaked sweets and individually wrapped chocolates.

Nonetheless, if you can put aside your lofty lava cake expectations, this Hershey’s Kiss is pretty good. The gooey inside is no chocolate lava, but it’s similar to the texture of a truffle, though perhaps a little more syrupy. The outside layer is dark chocolate, which tastes sweeter and less chalky alongside the thick chocolatey liquid that comprises the center. It may not be quite the same with room-temperature chocolate, but we still think you could eat this with ice cream.

6. Vanilla creme Hershey’s Kiss

This Hershey’s Kiss flavor takes the classic milk chocolate variety and adds a creamy vanilla filling. The center is light and almost airy in texture, contrasting the richness of the surrounding chocolate, though its sweetness is by no means lacking. In fact, our biggest complaint is the overwhelming amount of sugar in this tiny little chocolate and, after eating one, coursing through your veins. We all like a sweet Kiss, but this one may be going too far.

Still, the vanilla comes as a pleasant surprise from what appears at first sight to be a regular Kiss. While we’re certainly not disparaging a classic (see below), sometimes changing things up is good for morale. This quintessential combination of vanilla and chocolate is among the most renowned pairs of all time. Bite into this Kiss, and you’ll be reminded of vanilla ice cream drizzled in chocolate sauce — we recommend throwing these in the freezer to heighten the effect.

5. Hugs Hershey’s Kiss

By this point, we’ve spent enough time denigrating white chocolate (and conditioning you to, as well) that we can admit to a small exception. Not to be confused with an endorsement of the stuff, we will, however, assent to a small amount of white chocolate if, and only if, it is fully encased in a highly superior, legitimate chocolate. Hugs bring out the best of white chocolate by swirling it together with milk chocolate into one bite-sized bundle of smooth, sweet joy.

Hershey’s Hugs really encapsulate their name, offering consumers pleasant, platonic affection — nothing more, nothing less. Hugs are not abrasive (and considering the white chocolate aspect, that’s impressive!), but they also won’t knock you off your feet. We were impressed and mildly surprised by how good these were. Were there fireworks upon unwrapping the shiny foil and eating the thing whole, tasting the chocolate and sort-of chocolate mix? No, there simply were not. But sometimes what you really need is simple comfort and reliability: a hug.

4. Caramel Hershey’s Kiss

Caramel is a super-popular flavor, and for good reason. With its smooth, sticky texture and sweet, creamy taste, it’s hard to argue against it and even more difficult to resist it encased in the somewhat milder milk chocolate, which is exactly how Hershey’s made this Kiss so delicious.

Caramel is certainly on the sweet side and can verge on cloying for those who have a less eager sweet tooth. This filling is one of the more syrupy of all the special Kisses, making for the occasional annoyance of dripping caramel down your shirt. Alas, this is a small price to pay for the crack and slight crumble as the chocolate breaks against your teeth and into the river-like caramel that flows from the breaking point. If your sweet tooth is strong and you can stomach the ultra-sweet taste of caramel alongside the similarly saccharine milk chocolate Hershey’s flaunts, this is the Kiss for you.

3. Milk chocolate Hershey’s Kiss

There’s just no messing with a classic. In this case, the classic is a little boring, but nonetheless it’s good, solid chocolate — more reliable than Hugs and exactly the right shape and size for a dense bite of cocoa. It seems as though the more Hershey’s messes with the traditional candy, the more convoluted it becomes in both flavor and intention (cherry cordial?). Though Hershey’s is really no match for European chocolates, Americans don’t seem to have too much difficulty stomaching it. The original Kiss fulfills (almost) everything the subsequent versions were aiming for, with less of the obnoxious pomp and circumstance.

That said, if you’re looking to change things up a bit, Hershey’s offers the classic milk chocolate variety in a wide range of colored wrappers — so instead of finding an unsettling shade of red inside your chocolate, you can opt for a good, perfectly normal chocolate tucked inside an inedible red foil.

2. Mint truffle Hershey’s Kiss

The mint truffle Kiss is the exception to the general rule that Hershey’s should keep things simple. With a soft, creamy center flavored with cool mint covered in dark chocolate, this Kiss has created a high bar and reached it, its taste reminiscent of both a wintry evening and everyone’s favorite Girl Scout cookie (Thin Mints, obviously).

The aforementioned disappointment of Hershey’s dark chocolate becomes less so when paired with a softer center. The truffle texture of the mint creme makes the dark chocolate taste less chalky, and its sweetness lends itself to the dark chocolate’s more bitter taste.

This Kiss is a perfect solution for those who were left behind by the too-sweet caramel Kiss. The sweetness here is tempered by the cooling flavor of spearmint, tinted artificially green to match its natural state. This was one of our favorites, but it might be best to skip to our number one choice if you prefer your chocolates on the sweeter side.

1. Milk chocolate with almonds Hershey’s Kiss

And best in show goes to the milk chocolate with almond Kiss, a perfect specimen of a candy in flavor, texture, and size. Hershey’s classic milk chocolate Kiss gets a subtle makeover here with the addition of a single almond in its center. It’s a welcome surprise to bite into a crunchy, savory flavor surrounded by all that smooth chocolate, but it’s not so shocking to be jarring. It’s like remembering the lyrics to a song you didn’t realize you had memorized — it comes naturally, and you sing every word.

These babies are the perfect size to unwrap and snack on throughout the day, and they aren’t too sweet to eat several in a row and call it a meal. These kisses embody the best of Hershey’s: solid, creamy milk chocolate with a roasted almond heart — a step up from gold, if you ask us, seeing as almonds are both edible and quite delicious.